Moose McClintock from Dimension/Polyant gives you a little insight into the Annapolis NOODs and upcoming J/24 Worlds…
There has been a lot of speculation about how tough this year’s J-24 Worlds will be, in comparison to past championships, and the relative merit of the sailors of today to the sailors of the late’80’s and early 90’s. I have to tell you, after sailing the NOOD this weekend, in what amounted to a pre-Worlds tune up, the talent level at the top is as good as ever, this is going to one of the tougher regattas in a long time.
Tim Healy did a great job of digging back from disastrous first race when he had to re-start to win the regatta. Overall, he had great speed and did a good job of extending when he got ahead. Pete Levesque, relatively new to the class but certainly talented (multiple World Team Race World champion) and sailing Kenny Read’s ’92 World Champion boat Mookie looked to have the upper hand with 20 something points over Tim and 4 points on our boat going into the last race on Sunday but he stayed with us, not a good thing to do since we rounded the weather mark last. Tim rounded 2nd and stayed there, we never got far from last and Pete found when he got in that he had also incurred a Z flag penalty that dropped him to 4th while Will Welles sailed consistently to end up 2nd overall.
I hadn’t planned on sailing J-24’s anymore but with the class opening up the materials on the genoa to allow Aramids, I thought it would be good to see how they compared to the Pen that has been in place for the last couple years. Tim used a Quantum Technora genoa made from our One Design Laminate, as did we, the thought on this is that it will make the lightest, strongest sail and will deal particularly well with the abuse that J-24’s deal out to the genoa since it’s so good in flex. Will used a standard North Aramid genoa that looked fine, and Pete stuck with a North Pen since he’s used to it and didn’t want to make any big changes so close to the Worlds. I would say that both Pete and Tim were the fastest in the fleet, from what we could see, and there were also a couple Argentines who were split on the fiber but were extremely fast, winning two races. How the fiber question gets answered will be more evident after the Worlds. I also got a chance to look at our new nylon on our chute, it’s a slightly different construction from the nylon we used in the J-22 Worlds last summer where we were really quick off the wind, we’ll be using this along with past World Champ Anthony Kotoun. We were pretty quick down wind for this regatta so I’m hoping it’ll pull us out of potential problems.
Having been out of the class since 2002, with the exception of 2 regattas, it was fun to see some old friends and note who was fast. The American contingent is always strong in US based Worlds, the teams that have been sailing hard together for a long time like the Zaleskis, Mike Ingham and Mark Hillman (who was missing Scott Nixon for the NOOD while he sailed Etchells), to mention a few, look to be very strong. I was very impressed with the Argentines, there were 3 or 4 boats there and they were all fast all the time, and it didn’t look like they were using new sails. Former World Champion Jens Hookensen will be there with his practiced crew from Newport and double World Champion Mauricio Santa Cruz just showed up with a beautiful new Italian boat and sails that he’s now building for himself. There are probably another ten boats that have a realistic chance of winning; I haven’t seen that kind of depth in the fleet in more than ten years so it should be extremely competitive. I’ll try to give you a write up as often as I can get to a computer.